January 23, 2017

Biggety Bat by Ann Ingalls

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:41 pm by suebe2

biggety-batBiggety Bat: Hot Diggety, It’s Biggety and Biggety Bat: Chow Down, Biggety 
by Ann Ingalls
illustrated by Aaron Zenz

If you have a new reader in your home, look for this pair of fun early readers from Missouri author Ann Ingalls.  In the first book, readers meet Biggety Bat who is coming out just as the sun goes down.

Biggety is on the lookout for a friend.  As he explores the area around the bridge where he roosts, he finds egret, tortoises, beetles, mockingbirds and possum.  It is only when Biggety find a family of raccoons that the kits invite him to play.

biggety-bat-2This is a Level 1 reader meaning that although most of the words are sight words there are also some that your young reader will have to sound out.  These include words like tortoise and possum.  Fortunately, the illustrations give your new reader the clues that he or she needs to decipher the text.

An author’s note tells about the colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that live under a bridge in Austin, Texas.  It also lists the animals found in the book.

In the second book, Biggety is now making his home under a mangrove.  Biggety is sniffing out supper but the foods that the other animals eat — shrimp, grass and fish — won’t work for the hungry bat.  Finally a cloud of mosquitoes provide him with a meal.  But not to worry.  This book is also level one and Ingalls calls the mosquitoes bugs, an easy enough word for your new reader to decipher.  Once again there is an author’s note that describes the ecosystem of a mangrove swamp.

It can take a while for new readers to build their skills but leveled readers like these can help develop the academic muscles needed to read independently.  Ingalls’ Biggety books are light-hearted and fun but also teach new readers about the natural world.  Aaron Zenz cartoony illustrations add to the feel. Biggety and his fellow animals are cute and silly so even the crocodile isn’t too scary to distract from new reading skills.

Share these books with your new reader and help them learn what they need to know to read with confidence on their own.


September 15, 2014

Piranha by Ann Ingalls

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:34 am by suebe2

Cover: PiranhaPiranha
by Ann Ingalls
ABDO Publishing

I picked this one up for two reasons – I know Ingalls who is an amazing writer and we used to have a piranha.  Would this book be able to teach me anything?

There are 30 species of piranha.  I knew there was more than one but I never guessed that there were 30.

In spite of their deadly reputation, they very seldom attack large prey or people.  Some species eat only plants; I’ve seen pictures of these plant eaters and just going by their detention you’d never guess their diet.  The red bellied piranha is most often actually a scavenger, feeding on animals that have died in the water.  So when is a frightening feeding frenzy most likely to happen?  During the dry season when water levels drop and piranha may get trapped in low lying pools or other areas where they quickly run out of their preferred prey.

At only 48 pages, this book packed in a lot of piranha facts.  You read about their physiology, their life birth to death, the Amazon River and their role in it as well as how they are often prey.  Their most dangerous predator?  People!

I was glad to see that Ingalls touched on piranhas as pets and the problems caused when people who tire of their exotic, toothy friend dump the fish in a nearby body of water. Piranha are cold blooded and draw warmth from the water around them.  In colder climates, they may survive the summer but almost always die in winter, doing damage to the habitat in the meanwhile.

This book would be a sure draw for boys hoping to read about ill-fated cattle, people and capybara.  Because this is an ABDO book, it is also an excellent choice for the classroom or library.  Chapters end with quotes — one from Roosevelt who witnessed piranha attacking a cow and one from a scientific journal.  Students are asked to read these passages and then reflect on the main idea as well as how the message might be rewritten for a different audience.

Hats off to Ann Ingalls for teaching me so much about Rex (who is no longer amond us) and his cousins.



September 8, 2014

Ice Cream Soup by Ann Ingalls

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:54 am by suebe2

Ice Cream Soup
by Ann Ingalls
Penguin Young Readers

What do you get when you combine various kinds of ice cream, sprinkles, candies and syrup in one big pan?  The character in this early reader is trying to make an ice cream cake but by the time he’s done scooping, sprinkling, patting into place and pouring, he has a gloopy mess. Fortunately, this can do kid makes it work, renaming his dessert creation.

With controlled vocabularies and short sentences, early readers are tough to write.  How do you include syrup, sprinkles and all kinds of additions?  Those words, syrup in particular, aren’t easy to read.  The author solves it by having the character add “this and that.”  This keeps the reading level low enough for a new reader and the specifics come through in the illustrations.

Any parent or grandparent whose ever watched a messy ice cream concoction come together knows just how realistic this story is.  Young readers will enjoy the punchy text and the sense of accomplishment that they get when they read the book cover to cover with only minimal help.

This reader is level 1.  This means that:

  • the vocabulary is simple
  • words repeat
  • there are clues in the pictures
  • sentence structure is simple and predictable
  • ideas explored in the story are familiar

In spite of this simplicty, Ingalls upbeat language makes the story fun including rhyme and a quick rhythm.  Richard Watson’s cartoony illustrations add to the fun, increasing the sillyness factor tenfold as the mess grows and the kittens come check things out.

Pick this one up for your new reader and help him gain confidence in his new skills.



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